There’s something liberating about a movie that makes it clear that it’s not supposed to be taken seriously. When concepts like physics and geography are chucked out the window with abandon, the audience has no choice but to accept the world as presented and go with it. Dhoom 3 is just such a movie: ridiculous and thoroughly enjoyable.
Dhoom 3 finds Mumbai police officers Jai (Abhishek Bachchan) and Ali (Uday Chopra) in Chicago to assist the police investigation of a bank robber who leaves messages in Hindi at every crime scene. Apparently, there are no CCTV cameras in the city, because the local police are unable to identify the brazen perpetrator: Sahir (Aamir Khan), a magician with a grudge against the bank.
Jai spearheads the investigation because Ali is too infatuated with their lovely local police contact, Victoria (Tabrett Brethell), to concentrate. Victoria’s only real purpose in the movie is to appear in funny dream sequences in which Ali seduces her while surrounded by their four imaginary future children.
During the course of the investigation, Sahir revives his father’s Great Indian Circus, a stage show featuring dancers, acrobats, and magicians. His star performer is Aaliya (Katrina Kaif), whom we know is supposed to be a free spirit because of her penchant for wearing floppy hats and overalls. Like Victoria, Aaliya has little to do apart from looking sexy during performances.
The movie’s action-packed first half features a couple of great-looking chase scenes through downtown Chicago, including a race along the Chicago River that sees the return of the submersible jet ski from Dhoom 2 (physics, be damned)! The second half becomes a personal drama that reveals how Sahir has been able to pull off his heists, that — as tonally incongruous as it is — still works because Aamir Khan is so darned talented.
Because I live about thirty miles from Chicago, I’ve really been looking forward to Dhoom 3. Evidently, so had everyone else in the theater, because everyone let out a cheer when “Chicago 1990” appeared on screen at the start of the film. As a local, here’s what stood out to me:
- Dhoom 3‘s sense of geography is hilarious. I pity the poor tourist who comes to flat Chicago expecting to see the mountains Jai stares at out of his lakefront penthouse window. Also, good luck trying to make the motorcycle ride from Chicago to the Verzasca Dam in Switzerland.
- One place that likely will see an uptick in movie-related tourism is Six Flags Great America. Not only are a number of scenes shot there, but the characters discuss the merits of its various roller coasters by name.
- The movie is full of product placement — Mountain Dew, BMW, etc. — but there’s one corporation that apparently wouldn’t sign off on appearing in the movie: Dunkin’ Donuts. Their stores are EVERYWHERE in downtown Chicago, but you never see any on screen, a feat that seems impossible to accomplish by accident.
- The accents of all the Chicago characters are whack. This is a Chicago accent.
Minor quibbles aside, Dhoom 3 did right by Chicago. Near the end of the film is a shot of what I think is the single most beautiful sight in the world: the city of Chicago at night. I hope the movie entices a few extra people to come visit us here in the Windy City. If nothing else, Dhoom 3 is a goofy, fun way to spend three hours in the theater.